The Guild of London Sport and Recreation Managers

A Brief History of the First Thirty Years 1964 to 1994

1964 was the prelude to a year of great change in the Government of London. The London County Council was about to be replaced by the now defunct Greater London Council and the 90+ Metropolitan Boroughs were winding down, ready for their amalgamation into the 32 London Boroughs. The city of London stayed rooted in history and was largely unaffected by the changes.

Baths Managers, or as some of them were then quaintly named, Baths and Laundries Superintendents, were as ever in the forefront of adapting to change, and those in the capital, being among the most motivated in the country, saw the process of change as a challenge. At this time, of course, Directors of Leisure Services had not yet been invented.

For some of them, it was a time to say farewell to their colleagues and retire ful1 of years and honour to wherever it is that Baths Managers go at the end of their working lives. Others, the young, keen, enthusiastic ones, waged a gentlemanly battle for supremacy in the new local authorities. It was only gentleman then, because lady Baths Managers had not at that time penetrated the glass ceiling into the highest echelons.

The process of setting up the new authorities whilst still managing the old ones was an arduous task, but despite that the Baths Managers found the time in 1964 to get together as a group to discuss the way forward. The group first met formally on 17th November 1964, at the Kentish Town Baths, with the General Secretary of the Institute, Norman Tams as Chairman of the meeting.

More than ninety people attended, and it was decided that when appointments were made to the new Boroughs the creation of The Guild of London Baths Managers would be confirmed.

At the first meeting after 1st April 1965 Dick Gerred, ex Fulham, was elected as first Chairman and Jim Wallace, ex St. Pancras as Secretary. The Guild resolved that membership would be limited to members of the Institute who held the position of head of the baths service in a borough, and that the Guild would not discuss matters which would more correctly be dealt with by the Southern Branch of the Institute. (Institute of Baths & Recreation Management) Even at this early stage it had become apparent that the Guild had no desire to intrude on the professional activities of the Institute.

Even so the Guild was viewed by some as being an inner sanctum, where deep and dark issues were discussed, and outsiders shunned. This false image is now known to be completely fictitious.

The Guild, the Greater London Council, the London Boroughs Association (LBA) and the Boroughs all coalesced from the same formless chaos of reorganisation, and in its early days much of the time of Guild members was taken up by attempts to remove anomalies which were thrown up by amalgamations and restructuring of many small departments into fewer large ones. This calm and professional approach was being undertaken by men of great vision and understanding and the results of their work are the foundation on which all else rests.

The Secretary Jim Wallace, compiled details of all facilities and services managed by the London boroughs, with the aim of listing and comparing the prices which the customers were asked to pay. This mammoth task produced ten sheets of detailed information, which was distributed to all the boroughs and to the LBA. The greatest single benefit to Londoners from this was that OAP’s were granted free use of swimming pools and baths in nearly all parts of London. It is regrettable that this generosity of spirit is no longer so much in evidence.

From this co-operation with the LBA came the request that the Guild in association with the Southern Counties Amateur Swimming Association, should manage the London Swimming Championship which the new GLC (Greater London Council) was actively considering. This idea was moved forward by Godfrey, Lord Finsberg, a Camden councillor at that time, and it was agreed that the LBA would provide the initial finance, which included the magnificent trophy.

This was the Guild’s first foray into the organisation and management of an all-London event and a great amount of work and knowledge went into the setting up of a competition which is still as popular as ever, and is a major event in the swimming calendar. Alan Hime of Barnet is the Guild member most strongly remembered for his work with the Championships, while Cyril Parkin and John Zimmerman represented the SCASA (Southern Counties Amateur Swimming Association) on the organising committee for many years. It is fitting that we should remember them all in our story.

Another “first” for the Guild was the ‘Annual Lunch’, held in the run-up to Christmas. The first venue was Porchester Hall, part of Dean Lucy’s empire, in Westminster. Photographs taken of these now famous Lunches show many people famous within the Guild, the Southern Branch and the ISRM, including Eddie Pow, Jim Wallace, Dean Lucy, Fred Seagrove, Fred Bush, Eddie and Peter Lusher, Tom Lindley and Harry Hyde. Over the years, speakers from a wide variety of specialist areas have given papers at Guild meetings, and as a token of our gratitude to them we have always invited them to share in our festivities. Few, if any, have declined the invitation.

Whilst all the members have played their part during this first thirty years, there are some names which keep coming up in conversation. The twelve Chairmen of course, and their ever faithful Secretaries and Treasurers, who have kept the business of the Guild flowing smoothly, along with the Competition Co-ordinators, who have managed the events which display the public face of the Guild. The many people who have given freely of their time to address the meetings on a wide range of topics deserve a mention, as do the members who have been “volunteered” into performing a host of jobs, usually at short notice. The people who have hosted events; whether meetings or competitions, and who have helped with the arrangements for visits outside London; all receive our thanks.

GUILD OFFICERS 1964 – 1994

Chairmen

Dick Gerred – Hammersmith
AIan Wright – Islington
Dean Lucy – Westminster
Jim Wallace – Camden
Eddie Lusher – Bromley
Alf Read – Merton
Doug Wallis – Greenwich
Tom Shepherd – Croydon
Austin Bolshaw – Newham
Gareth Morgan – Handsworth
Geoff Derby – Harrow
Bob Rust – Havering

Secretaries

Jim Wallace
AIf Read
Tony Carty
Tom Shepherd
Gareth Morgan
Mark Carty
David Swinburn
Malcolm North

Competition Coordinators

Tony Carty
Alan Hime
Mike Lockwood

Treasurers

Tom Shepherd
Gordon Matthews
Gareth Morgan

The Guild never rests on its laurels, and once the Inter-Borough Competition was past the initial stages the members put their collective mind to promoting other ways of improving the range and quality of services for all Londoners.

The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 saw the launch of the Youth Games, and Austin Bolshaw of Newham was instrumental in organising the swimming events. During the ‘Year of the Disabled’ the Guild successfully organised the London wide events, and indeed some boroughs still continue to run their own events for the disabled.

In the late 1980’s the Guild, supported by Jackie Warrington from the Sports Council, set up the London Swimathon, an event which, from a modest start of 15 pools and 2000 swimmers grew into the nationally sponsored BT Swimathon of today. Statistics of numbers of swimmers and their donations to charity are staggering in their size hundreds of pools, tens of thousands of swimmers and millions of pounds for charity. The Guild is justifiably pleased to have been the joint initiator of so worthy an event. Swimathon is now managed by a team at London Events Agency, led by Graham Batterham, assisted by, among others, Jackie Warrington.

Still in the 1980’s, Doug Adam of Croydon, put together the scheme which led to the creation of the ‘Top Team’ training initiative for teams of lifeguards. This, like Swlmathon, has expanded from an initial ten teams, beyond the borders of London and the south east of England to become a national event. It is hoped that in 1994 it will be international, in that teams from the Republic of Ireland will compete alongside those in Northern Ireland, prior to the U.K. finals at Ealing in November.

Moving into the 1990’s, the Guild has created another couple of initiatives, Quality Performance Indicators and added value. Small, select groups of Guild members are working towards improved performance standards and better presentation of the professional services carried out by the members’ employers. Doubtless, in future years, their impact will be seen to be as important as that of earlier initiatives.

Over the years, the Guild has arranged many visits to places of professional interest within the U.K. and Europe, including France, The Netherlands, Wales, the Isle of Wight, the Thames Valley and East Anglia. Expeditions of this nature are keenly appreciated by those fortunate enough to accompany their colleagues, and the reminiscences help to fill up many a glass of cheer.

The London Guild of Sport & Recreation Managers Annual Dinner Far side – Eddie Pow (Westminster); Fred Bush (Wandsworth); Frank Dixon (Walthamstow); Nick Carter (Hounslow); ? ; Harry Hare (Ealing); Peter Lusher (Haringey); Alan Wright (Islington); Harry Hyde (East Ham); Top table – Jim Wallace (Camden); Eddie Lusher (Bromley); Dean Lucy (Westminster); Dick Gerrard (Fulham); Alf Read (Merton); Near side – Norman Tams (Hackney); Tom Lindley (Richmond); Arthur Cross (Lewisham); Derick Slater (Newham); ? ; Fred Stone (Deptford); Peter Cox (General Secretary IBM); ? ; Fred Seagrove (Harrow). 

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